Candidate Social Media Searches: Right or Wrong?
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Candidate Social Media Searches: Right or Wrong?

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Over 60% of UK employers "pre-screen" candidates before interview stage by checking social media pages. The most popular candidate social media searches among employers were on Facebook & Twitter. Info obtained from a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder.

It seems logical for an employer to want to know what a candidate is truly like before hiring them, the problem is when it becomes a breach of privacy. Whether the person is a good fit for the company is crucial for an employer, and it's fully understandable to say the data is online already for everybody else to see. The concerning side to the argument is hardly any of the 2000 employers surveyed mentioned LinkedIn as their number one source of candidate information.

Does that mean 60% of companies are only searching for what a candidate is really, really like?

search candidates social media pagesAccording to EU regulators, searching for a candidate via social media and making a decision to hire them is a breach of EU law. This all comes amidst new guidelines recently released covering data protection. By their rules all employers & recruiters must have some form of legal ground to conduct candidate social media searches. The information obtained must also be relevant to the job itself in some way. The European Union regulators who first proposed this idea are called "The Article 29 Working Party."

New rules will mean any potential candidates must be made fully aware the employer intends to search their social media profiles. Also included is guidelines on accepting friend requests from co-workers or management. This states,  an employee, candidate or affiliate of any company does not have to accept any friend requests they don't want. 

How will new rules affect Recruitment Agencies & Employers?

Most agencies would send a candidate CV to a prospecting employer without the contact information included. This historically prevented the employer from cutting out the middle man and going direct to the candidate. Given the rise of social media, it has become easier than ever to find out the face behind the CV. A crude tactic bypassing the middle man, the bane of any recruiters sin list. Given current recruitment agency fees you can only imagine that new rules will favour recruitment agencies in the above situation. Some agencies don't provide a name now in fear of candidate social media searches. 

The term "legal ground" surely cannot mean an application to the courts, only to see what your last interviewee really means by "i like to socialise with friends"

What else will be changing?

Included in the legislation is the need for a mandatory data protection officer in every single large corporation. This person is responsible for protecting the data of the company and it's customers. If not followed correctly, the business could incur a fine of up to 4% of global turnover, or €20 million.

While some rules may seem a little bit out there, others are more realistic. The EU also plan to ban any wearable devices given to employees to monitor their health, location or any other personal or work related details. It may still be illegal even if an employee agreed to wearing the technology. This is claimed because of the uneven balance of power & obligation between employee and employer.

Using key logging software to monitor staffs key strokes, activities and site visits is also covered under guidelines. Both would become illegal even if an employee is working from home.

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Author / Digital Distribution

Rebecca Wheeler is a university graduate, an author and head of digital distribution at My Job Post, she also writes freelance for other online based UK news outlets.

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